Driving With the Top Down

Driving With the Top Down by Beth Harbison

Book: Driving With the Top Down by Beth Harbison Read Free Book Online
Authors: Beth Harbison
Tags: Fiction, Contemporary Women
uncomfortable.
    “This is my old friend—”
    “Wilhelmina Camalier,” the woman said, reaching a claw out to Tamara.
    Seriously, did Tam look to her like a hand-shaking hoity-toity lady?
    Still, she took the icy appendage into her French toast–greased palm and gave a squeeze, the way she saw her dad do when he ran into someone he didn’t know well. “Nice to meet you,” she mumbled.
    The woman, who seemed to Tamara to be an icy cold bitch already, said, “I wasn’t really prepared.”
    Well, excuse me, lady. Sorry we didn’t give you warning.
    Colleen gestured at her clothes. They were just normal clothes, but to Colleen, they seemed proof of something. “We weren’t planning on running into anyone either. We were just sidetracked by everything. Road trip, you know. Never know what’s going to catch your eye or take you off course.” She made a dopey, gung-ho gesture.
    “To … here?” Wilhelmina Camalier asked.
    “To … No, this isn’t where we’re road-tripping to, but when you see the sign for this exit, it’s impossible not to remember.”
    “Yes.” The lady didn’t look like she wanted to remember whatever it was that came into her head when she heard the word “remember.”
    The two of them still hovered, standing there, clearly neither sure what the next physical move was going to be.
    “We’re going on a little tour of the South to stop at a bunch of farm auctions to pick up some antiques,” Colleen said. This was unusually awkward. “I refinish them and sell them.”
    Wilhelmina clearly had nothing to say, but nodded as supportively as she could seemingly muster.
    “But, of course, that’s not the issue right now,” Colleen went on. “You said you called the police?”
    Tamara was immediately on alert with a plunging stomach and hot cheeks. Habit. Police?
    “Well, I—” The woman looked down and to the left before taking in a deep breath. Lying. Tam’s mom had always said that. Down and to the left was lying. Up and to the left was remembering. She didn’t know what the other two were. “Yes, I did. They took a report.”
    “That was fast,” Colleen said.
    “There was a policeman in the parking lot.” The woman looked at Colleen. “You remember how they always hung out here.”
    “I do.”
    Another lengthy, tense silence.
    “Why don’t we sit down?” Colleen asked, sliding into the booth.
    At first the woman said nothing. Didn’t move. Didn’t leave. Didn’t say “fuck off,” as she looked like she wanted to. Just stood there.
    Colleen patted the seat next to her. “Come on, sit down. We can call for a cab or car rental company or something.”
    She settled into the booth next to Colleen, each of them looking uncomfortable at the proximity. The seat next to Tamara was occupied by Colleen’s purse and Tamara’s hoodie. Thank God.
    The waitress returned, and Wilhelmina Camalier said with a head shake and palm that she wasn’t going to order anything.
    Colleen looked annoyed by that for some reason.
    What the hell had happened between these two that they were so freaking awkward? Tamara wondered.
    “So what happened that you needed to call the cops?” Tam asked. “Or, whatever, flag one down in the parking lot?”
    “Her car was stolen,” Colleen answered.
    The other woman’s eyes filled with tears and she looked down. All she had was her purse and that notebook Tamara had noticed earlier. “And my money. Almost all my money was in there.”
    “You keep your money in your car?” Tamara asked.
    “Not usually. I just went to the bank and had it in an envelope and stopped in here for a quick bite.”
    That woman didn’t look like she ever stopped in anywhere for a bite. Looking at her, Tamara believed Wilhelmina might actually mean One Single Bite of Food.
    “I can’t believe no one heard anything if someone broke into your car,” Colleen said, evidently not feeling the same bullshit vibe Tamara was from this story.
    “I guess they didn’t really

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